The UNLICENSE is a short, sweet, and respectable license (or lack there of).
When I started open source, I used the MIT license because that was what everyone else was using. At a glance, the MIT license is short and understandable.
I began to question things after a talk by Bryan Cantrill on Corporate Open Source. He dropped terms like Copyleft and explaining why certain licenses are very hostile. I did my research on MIT and found that it was still satisfying my wants.
Some months later, I re-read the MIT license and realized that it required attribution inside all forked repositories. I am not okay with this.
Following the same principles on why I began open source, the software I create should be entirely unrestricted. It belongs to the world, not me.
From this conclusion, I started to look for a license that suited my wants. I stuck around with the MIT license for a few more months but eventually settled.
I narrowed my choices down to the most common public domain licenses:
- WTFPL - Do What The Fuck You Want To Public License, commonly used on 140byt.es
- CC0 - Creative Commons 1.0 Universal, the license used by gittip
- UNLICENSE - The UNLICENSE, my current weapon of choice
I did not choose WTFPL because it was too informal and would not be well respected in court.
I did not choose CC0 because it was too verbose; I wanted a license that was short and I could understand.
I chose UNLICENSE because it was short like the MIT license and easily understood.
There was one major concern I had with the UNLICENSE; it would not hold up in some jurisdictions. You cannot entirely waive your rights on a piece of software in some countries yet every article was vague about where/why. There is a fallback clause in CC0 about this (see #4). However, I trudged on and started making the switch.
A few months later, I decided to do my due diligence on the jurisdiction situation. I came up with it mostly being Moral Rights on a piece of software.
After reading through the list, I decided that I would not lower myself to their legal level by adjusting the license.
I contemplated releasing software anonymously to forego even these most basic rights. However, I consider that extreme at this current time.
If someone is concerned about my open source software, they can reach out to me and I can license it to them/guarantee I won't sue them over it.
At the time of writing, I have created/transitioned 23 repositories to UNLICENSE.